On the third anniversary of their dramatic march for land, the Panaw Sumilao farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon received a total of 147 hectares of land which they plan to develop into a corn and cassava farm.
The farmers had laid claim to an SMC-owned estate on which the company’s subsidiary, San Miguel Foods Inc. (SMFI), had built a state-of-the-art hog farm.
In the end, San Miguel chose to simply donate a portion of the contested property to help alleviate the farmers’ plight. It also pledged to help them acquire more lands outside its property.
The farmers became landowners after SMC donated to them 50 hectares within its property. This was followed by the turnover to the farmers, as beneficiaries under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, of a total of 97 hectares outside the property, comprised of 84 hectares distributed in June and 13 hectares distributed recently.
The farmers received their certificates of land title from Dept. of Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes, Undersecretary Jerry Pacturan, and representatives from San Miguel Foods Inc. and the San Miguel Foundation.
Panaw Sumilao chairperson Napoleon “Yoyong” Merida, said that the land will be used to plant corn and cassava.
He added that they already have a warehouse for harvested crops, a solar dryer, corn miller, corn shredder, mechanical dryer, and a water system.
SMFI meanwhile said it can buy the farmers’ produce, primarily corn and cassava, for its feed raw material requirements.
Merida also asked SMC and other stakeholders for additional support in the form of capability and skills training, marketing support, livelihood opportunities for farmers’ wives, spiritual assistance, a day care center, college and vocational scholarships, housing, and additional farm equipment.
The SMFI hog farm currently provides employment for many locals in Sumilao and has helped boost the local economy.
The firm, through the San Miguel Foundation, also funds and operates the Sumilao Community Clinic, which provides free medical consultations and medicines for people with common ailments and hypertension. The clinic covers 10 barangays.
It has also established a Community Store and a Community Training Center where technical and vocational courses are offered by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda).